The Village Velodrome Appreciation Society

A blog about jitensha and jogging

Saturday, May 31, 2008

A film about cycling that should appeal to everyone

A friend of mine posted this to me, and I ignored it at first, thinking it's just another YouTube video. But as soon as the opening scenes begin, you can tell this is something different. It's intriguing, well-shot. And the ending is so tragic it brings a tear to my eye every time I watch it.

I went to this race in 2001. It's as crazy and fun as it is depicted here - the one thing you can't get from the film is the smell - hotdogs and tobacco. How the riders breathe I really don't know. Anyway, set aside 10 minutes, turn up the sound and watch this great video.

Monday, May 26, 2008


My achilles is not getting better, and my massuer is getting worried, so I can't run. Today, I did a 35-minute walk. I felt like such a loser - walking sucks. I did learn some new things about my area though - fashion designer Issey Miyake's factory is near my house - I never knew that. And I found quite a big temple too. So maybe there are some good reasons to slow down - you get to see stuff. But all in all, I feel about as happy as the little guy above...

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Sunday, May 25, 2008

This video really captures the freedom and fun of riding a fixie in Tokyo

The great soundtrack helps set the mood for this video. I wish I could do the tricks these guys do. The no-handed wheelies they're doing halfway through this vid are close to impossible.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Missed events

In Australia and England there are a lot of running and cycling events you can enter on the day, or maybe just a week before. But in Japan, running events sell out months in advance. So I'm always finding out about events too late.

This week, I found out I missed a chance to race at Oi Wharf in an amateur bicycle race that will be run before the Tour of Japan arrives. Then yesterday, I found I had missed the cut-off date to run at Nittaidai University on June 1 in a 5,000m time trial - I'm going to enter the next one though.

If you'd like to run at Nittaidai, check out the list of times, distances and dates below. There are different categories for different runners - but it seems they're all quite fast. (Click on the information to make it bigger).

I'm mildly injured again. My achilles got worse Sunday, so I took yesterday off and I won't run today either.

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Monday, May 19, 2008

Anyone want to run this?

A trail in Spain with a difference

Saturday, May 17, 2008

Tour of Japan

The Tour of Japan starts in Osaka tomorrow and makes its way to Tokyo, via Nara, finishing next Sunday. The Tokyo leg starts in Hibiya at 11am and ends at Ooi Wharf. It's well worth watching - Tour de France stage winner Leon van Bon will be riding, as well as some great riders from Australia.

Check out for more details, or go the the Tour of Japan website:

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Friday, May 16, 2008

But Millar wasn't the first to sling his bike

Scottish rider David Millar (see post below) broke his chain then ditched his bike, but back in 1997 Bjarne Riis, the 1996 Tour de France winner, suffered two mechanical mishaps.

Since then he has admitted to taking EPO, so perhaps there was a bit of divine justice at work.

Speaking of drugs, this letter from Victor Conte is dynamite:

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Thursday, May 15, 2008

David Millar in the Giro d'Italia

David Millar is an incredibly talented rider, but he does have some terribly bad luck with his bikes.

In the Tour de France in 2003 he was cruising to a win in the prologue stage when his chain fell off, then on stage 19 of the Tour de France last year his rear wheel disintegrated. And now this...


Sunday, May 11, 2008

Jeff Riseley

While most Australian athletics fans have been focussing on Craig Mottram lately, it was interesting to see another of Nic Bideau's runners, Victorian Jeff Riseley take the 800m event at the Osaka IAAF meet on the weekend. He was 2/10ths off his PB, but in the cold and wet Osaka conditions it was still a fine run. He'll need to find 1.5 seconds by August, but he's very young and cut 3 seconds off his time in the past 12 months. Thanks to Bideau's guidance he could find himself in the finals in Beijing.

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Sunday, May 04, 2008


Interesting that in the decade that EPO became widely available, the world 10km record for men dropped by 45 seconds. Now, this is definitely not to say that the people setting world records were taking EPO - simply that to beat someone on EPO it might have meant running a whole lot faster than before. Perhaps it has nothing to do with drugs, maybe training took a giant leap forward during this period?

Time reduction (in seconds)
1970-1980 - 16.90
1980-1990 - 14.27
1990-2000 - 45.48
2000-2005 - 05.22

But it's interesting that not only did every record in every men's event improve, they improved at a faster rate than before. This is the opposite of what you would expect - as we get closer to human potential the improvements we make should be smaller. It's also interesting that as events go from 1,500m to 5,000m to 10,000m the improvements get greater - and not just in terms of an extra second for every extra kilometer - take a look...

Pre EPO: 3:29.5 - Now: 3:26.00
Pre EPO: 12:58.0 - Now: 12:37.35
Pre EPO: 27:08.0 - Now: 26:17.53

So since the appearance of EPO, the percent change in improvements year on year has been just under 100 percent for the 1,500; a little over 100 percent for the 5,000m, and an astonishing 200 percent for the 10,000m.

Remember when great runners would set a record and it lasted for years? Henry Rono's 10,000m record stood for 6 years, Fernando Mamede's 10,000m record stood for 5 years. Since the introduction of EPO the record has fallen 10 times in 12 years. Are Nike shoes really getting that much better?

The sad thing is there might be a price to pay for the rapid improvements athletes have made since EPO emerged. The first runner to set a new world best after the introduction of EPO, Richard Chelimo, was found dead at age 29 (a side note: his record lasted just one week).
Hicham El Guerrouj 's comments on Chelimo's death make interesting reading:

Current 10,000m record holder Kenenisa Bekele saw his elite athlete fiance collapse and die while out on a run. Wikipedia says: "On January 4, 2005, Bekele's fiancee, 18-year-old Alem Techale, died of an apparent heart attack while on a training run with him. Although it was initially stated that no autopsy was performed, Techale and Bekele's manager, Jos Hermens, later said that an autopsy had revealed nothing conclusive about the young woman's death. She was the 2003 World Youth Champion in the 1500 m and in excellent physical condition. The mystery surrounding her death has raised suspicion about the possible use of EPO or other performance-enhancing drugs by Techale and perhaps other athletes in Hermens' care."
The "other athletes in Hermen's care" include one Haile Gebrselassie, who has set the world 10,000m record twice (along with setting many other records).

People often point to cycling as the sport with a drug problem. But a look at the "Operación Puerto" case in Spain reveals an often overlooked fact. An EPO-supplying doctor was "treating" 200 athletes. Fifty-eight of those athletes were cyclists. EPO isn't cheap - it costs over $10,000 a year to fly to Spain for regular purchases of the treatments. You need to be winning a lot of prize money to make EPO worthwhile. So that leaves over 100 athletes unaccounted for - athletes that compete in events that require sustained effort, benefit from increase oxygen-carrying capacity, and stand to earn enough money to make spending $10,000 seem like a good investment.

Thankfully, things have changed. A test for EPO has been developed - and look at the difference it has made already. In the years 1996 to 2005 16 runners broke 12.50 for 5,000m, in the same period 14 runners broke 26.50 for 10,000m. This year - an Olympic selection year - no runner has gone under 13 minutes for the 5,000m and no runner has gone under 27 minutes for 10,000m.

The Beijing Olympics might be the slowest since EPO became available - but that might also make it the fairest and safest.

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Saturday, May 03, 2008

Stuck in a rut

The week before I joined my running club I ran a 5km race at Yokota Airbase and finished in 18mins 01seconds. Soon after joining the club my 5km time PB dipped to 17.55, then 17.49, then 17.45 and after a pause to get over an injury I ran a 17.33, but my most recent 5kms are boringly similar 17.51, 17.51, 17.55, 17.59, 18.10 and today 18.05.

I dropped my house key in today's race and had to double back and pick it up, but even if that cost me 6 seconds it leaves me lingering in the high 17s again. I think I'm stuck in a rut.

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